Introduction

Alright, welcome to day two and your second lesson of Ross’ History Week.  Yesterday, we covered a pretty significant event in American history.  Today, we will be going over a subject that not only affects us here in the U.S.  but the entire world as well.  It all has to do with that little device that you are most likely reading this story on.  Here is lesson 2.

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Can You Hear Me Now?      

Ahh yes, the cell phone.  Something that has become way more than a way to call mom on Tuesday nights.  It connects us to the entire world now.  We can find an answer to almost any question.  We can essentially access anyone we want at any time of the day.  It’s amazing what we do with these things. But how and where did it all get started?

Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of what we know as the telephone.  He received the patent for his invention on March 7, 1876.  A few days later he made the first-ever phone call.  You kind of know where things go from here.  Eventually, it was hard to find a place that didn’t have a telephone sitting on a table or hanging on the wall.

Another important person in this story is Reginald Fessenden.  He is credited for the first-ever wireless phone call in December of 1900.  Well, how did he do that?  Good old-fashioned radio, of course!  Fessenden wanted to take the human voice and transmit it along with a frequency so that it could be heard on a receiver miles from the transmitting station.  He wanted to take the foundations of Morse Code and ramp it up a bit.  Thanks to him we not only got the foundation of a wireless call but we also got broadcast radio out of it.

Now, we can jump forward a bit.  It wasn’t until 1947 that the first designs for a cellular network were created.  The original layout was a group of radio towers arranged in a hexagonal shape.  The signal wasn’t great because the design was ahead of the technology needed to make wireless calls work.  Also, it took a lot of power to operate the “wireless” phone so a lot of the early cell phones were placed into cars.  Hey, it was still mobile communication.

During the 1960s technology was finally at a point to make the designs of 1947 possible.  Enter in Martin Cooper.  This is the guy you can thank for giving you the cell phone you know and love.  Cooper was an engineer for Motorola and he was given the task of creating a phone that was truly mobile.  For Motorola, this was a do-or-die situation.  At the time AT&T really owned the market on phones in cars.  Once the technology was there to have truly mobile phones Motorola feared that if they didn’t have something to compete with AT&T they were in trouble.

So, Cooper designed and created the DynaTAC (aka the “Brick”).  The first mobile phone of its kind.  On April 3, 1973, Cooper made the first cell phone call.  Want to know who was on the receiving end?   Joel Engel, the guy who was in charge of the cell phone project at AT&T.  Yeah, the first cell phone call was used to tell the other guy that he lost.  That’s awesome.

The rest, as they say, is history.  Technology got even better and the phones got smaller and smarter.  I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined we’d use cell phones the way we do now.  Imagine what we’ll have in another 48 years.

Sources: History.com, howstuffworks.combritannica.com, aarp.org 

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